Johnny Gorman’s barndance

Also known as Michael Coleman’s.

There are 3 recordings of this tune.

Johnny Gorman's has been added to 24 tunebooks.

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Four settings

X: 1
T: Johnny Gorman's
R: barndance
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
D2 G2 GBAG|FGAB c2dc|B2GB (3ABA FG|(3ABA GA FA d2|
D2 G2 GBAG|FGAB c2dc|(3BcB GB (3ABA FG|A2 G2 G4:|
|:d2Bd gdB2|cBcd e2dc|B2GB (3ABA FG|(3ABA GA FA d2|
d2Bd gdB2|cBcd e2dc|B2GB (3ABA FG|(3ABA G2 G4:|
X: 2
T: Johnny Gorman's
R: barndance
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
D2 G2 G2 (3BAG|F>GA>B (3cdc (3cBA|B2 G>B (3ABA F>G|(3ABA ^G>A F>AE>A|
(3DED G>F G>BA>G|F2 (3GAB c2 (3cBA|(3BcB G>B (3ABA (3FGA|G2 B2 G2:|
d2 B>d g>d (3Bcd|c2 (3Bcd e2 d>c|B>GG>B A>F (3FFG|(3ABA ^G>A F>Ad>^c|
(3ded (3Bcd g>d B2|c>Bc>d (3efe d>c|B2 G>B A2 F>A|G2 (3GGG G2:|
X: 3
T: Johnny Gorman's
R: barndance
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
D2 G2 G2 BG|FGAB c2 cA|B2 GB A2 FG|A2 ^GA FAEA|
D2 GF GBAG|FGAB c2 BA|B2 GB A2 FA|G2 B2 G2:|
d2 Bd gdBd|c2 Bd e2 dc|BGGB AFFG|A2 ^GA FAd^c|
d2 Bd gd B2|cBcd e2 dc|B2 GB A2 FA|G2 G2 G2:|
X: 4
T: Johnny Gorman's
R: barndance
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
D2 G2 GBAG|FGAB c2dc|B2GB A2 FG|(3ABA GA FA d2|
D2 G2 GBAG|FGAB c2dc|(3BcB GB (3ABA FG|(3ABA G2 G4:|
|:d2Bd gBdB|ABcd eBdc|B2GB (3ABA FG|(3ABA GA FA D2|
d2Bd gBdB|ABcd eBdc|B2GB (3ABA FG|(3ABA G2 G4:|

Twenty comments

Johnny Gorman’s

Got this jaunty tune from Gerry Harrington; he recorded it on The Merry Love to Play. I believe he got it from an old Michael Coleman recording. It seems like it’s a close cousin of “The Shaskeen”.

Peadar O’Loughlin and Maeve Donnelly recorded this as a polka.

Harrington actually refers to it as a polka in the liner notes, but he plays it heavily swung – closest match in my experience would be something like the Chaffpool Post barndance. Certainly it doesn’t resemble a Kerry polka in any way, nor is it akin to something like “The Lakes of Sligo”.

Personally I don’t care much what the tune type is called, but choosing barndance makes the notation come out right, IMO. Note that Harrington pairs it with “The Primrose Polka”, another tune given as a barndance here.

One form of tune that takes the term ‘polka’, likely to do with the ‘step’ or ‘stepping’ more than a clearly narrow form of melody, as ‘polka’ was also used for tunes in 3/4, are those that fall into being treated in playing more like this or “The Primrose Polka”, with swing, and even treated as and danced to as a schottische, which falls in with this general crowd of ‘barndances’… This one is familiar to me but I can’t quite place from where. I’ll reacquaint myself with it and add another transcription for comparison later… I’ll also see if I can find another recording or transcription around here somewhere first…

Note: while not the ‘classic’ ‘Kerry polka’, similar tunes to this were also part of that tradition…

I was sure this one comes from early on, the old American 78’s, possibly McKenna or Morrison or Coleman or Killoran or The Flanigan Brothers ~ ? ~ but I don’t see any links being made. This makes me wonder if there is another name for it?

As I said, Coleman did record it – it’s one of those unreleased recordings floating around out there. I’m pretty sure it’s not found on the Killoran/Morrison CD, nor on any of the (released) Coleman CDs.

As for the name, I’d be really surprised if it didn’t have others. Harrington actually called it “James Gannon’s” when I heard him play it in summer of 2006, but he used “Johnny Gorman’s” on his 2007 album.


John O’Halloran recorded this tune as a reel on “But Why Johnny?” and called it “Michael Coleman’s”. All he said about it in the liner notes was that he learned the tune recently. Since countless other tunes surely carry this same name I am a bit hesitant to post it as an alternate name for this tune, so I’ll leave that decision up to Sol, Ceol, or somebody else a bit more in the know about this tune.

Johnny Gorman ~

Index of Articles & Photos in NPU’s “An Píobaire”

Gorman, Johnny

Sraith 2, Uimhir 7, Meitheamh 1980: page 4, “Piper’s shocking death: Johnny Gorman” article from the Irish Independent 27-3-1917 about piper & fiddler Johnny Gorman’s tragic demise

Sraith 2, Uimhir 8, Deireadh Fomhair 1980: page 3-4, “The trip to Dunmore” article by Dave Hegarty

Vol 3. no. 8 September 1991: page 12-17, “From the archive - The geese in the bog” transcription of The geese in the bog“ & article by Sean Donnelly ~ James Early, Jim Lavin, Barney Delaney, Johnny Gorman, Patsy Touhey & Michael Gallagher are mentioned, photo of Michael Carney…

I haven’t these or I’d provide a little more information from them.

Wise choice Jason. It seems that a Coleman recording is one of it’s sources, but it would be a shame if it now linked to everything else that his name have been tagged on to… You should have seen the results when the site used to link every ‘gan ainm’ together… Thank goodness that doesn’t happen anymore…

Johnny Gorman, ‘Jack the Piper’ ~ and wanting more stories ~

The James Morrison Story

~ two musicians in particular were said to have had a major influence on Jim’s early music. Tom Johnston was one. A noted fiddle player from Drumfin Cross, he put great emphasis on technique and the importance of good tone production. The other was Johnny Gorman, the blind travelling uilleann piper, who visited Drumfin every year. In the area he was kept for periods up to a month in Mulligan’s of Coolteen, where “people from miles around used gather to hear him play.”’ Jim’s ability to write music brought him to the attention of the piper, who took a special interest in his progress. It is remembered that as Jim’s fiddle playing improved, he and Johnny would play together for hours on end, much to the delight of all.

The role played by Johnny Gorman, or Jack the Piper as he was also known, in spreading music throughout North-West Connacht was considerable. From the townland of Derrylahan on the Roscommon-Mayo border, he was a well known figure at the turn of the century, playing his pipes in music houses and at fairs in these counties as well as throughout neighbouring Leitrim and Sligo. By all accounts, Gorman was a highly respected and accomplished piper. In 1902, he made what must have been the arduous journey to Dublin to win the Feis Ceoil piping competition. Two years later he was awarded first prize in piping at the Oireachtas, but the hardships and gruelling life of a travelling piper finally overtook him in 1917 when he died tragically and was buried in a pauper’s grave in Co. Leitrim.

Johnny Gorman left his stamp on the repertoire and style of music played in this region, particularly in the Ballymote area and its surroundings. By taking ‘the near cut’ over Cloonagashel, Ballymote was four miles from Jim Morrison’s home and he is known to have often played at dances in the area. Musicians abounded around Ballymote at this time, and in particular the neighbourhoods of Bunnanadden, Doocastle, and Gurteen were especially rich in fiddle players.

Johnny Gorman ~ a little bit more

Gorman’s Reel, The Pretty Girls of the Village - Paddy Cronin
Fiddle solo, Tom McSharry - piano, Copley 9-115.

The first tune is titled after Johnny Gorman, a famous travelling piper from Roscommon who played music with both Michael Coleman and James Morrison. This reel was also recorded by Dublin piper Billy Andrews, who may have learned it directly from Gorman at a Dublin Feis Ceoil, or indirectly from musicians who knew Gorman, as Cronin did. The second tune is often called Anderson’s, after another renowned piper, Michael Anderson from Co…

The Beauty Spot, The Sunny Banks - Michael Coleman and Michael Walsh
Fiddle and flute, Arthur P Kenna - piano, New Republic 2333.

Two old reels played at a relaxed pace. The Beauty Spot was a popular tune with pipers, and one of Coleman’s major influences was the pipes, most prominently being influenced in his youth by travelling piper Johnny Gorman, and in NYC by Michael Anderson. Unfortunately no recordings exist of either musician. Coleman takes a solo for the first time through the Sunny Banks, a nice feature.

That’s wild Jason, nothing has linked to it. Maybe it’s the apostrophe? I’m taking a closer look. As it is the only such listing without a previous link maybe it could be added here safely without worry of being swamped by unrelated tunes under a similar name… I can always ask Sol to remove it if it goes off with a bang…

It is the apostrophe, again… I’ve added it and I’ll link up those others from that recording but leave “Michael Coleman’s” just linking to here…

“Johnny Gorman’s Barn Dance” ~ another take

X: 2
T: Johnny Gorman’s
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: barndance / schottische
K: G Major
|: (3GFE |\
D2 G2 G2 (3BAG | F>GA>B (3cdc (3cBA | B2 G>B (3ABA F>G | (3ABA ^G>A F>AE>A |
(3DED G>F G>BA>G | F2 (3GAB c2 (3cBA | (3BcB G>B (3ABA (3FGA | G2 B2 G2 :|
|: (3ABc |\
d2 B>d g>d (3Bcd | c2 (3Bcd e2 d>c | B>GG>B A>F (3FFG | (3ABA ^G>A F>Ad>^c |
(3ded (3Bcd g>d B2 | c>Bc>d (3efe d>c | B2 G>B A2 F>A | G2 (3GGG G2 :|

Johnny Gorman ~ nicknamed ‘Jack the Piper’ ~ a bit more

The Fiddler’s Companion ~ Andrew Kuntz

Gorman was an itinerant professional uilleann piper originally from Derrylahon, County Roscommon ~ He was quite influential on his circuit of Counties Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim, teaching and playing until his tragic death outside Drumshambo, County Leitrim, in 1917. Esteemed Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman was one who was greatly influenced by him, and it is said that Coleman incorporated the piper’s ornamentation into his fiddle playing.

Johnny Gorman / ‘Jack the Piper’

Roscommon Herald Archives ~ Lisacul - Great piper Gorman remembered

He was born in Derrylahan near Gorthaganny in the 1860’s. He became a travelling musician after his wife died. He played around Ballaghaderreen and moved on to Gurteen where Michael Coleman befriended him and got many of his tunes. He then moved to Ballymote before settling in Drumshanbo where he died in 1917. ~

Coleman as the source

Michael Coleman’s final studio recording session is the source for this tune for everyone now playing it. Harry Bradshaw did his restoration magic for those tracks (which had been known but unavailable for decades), but they have never yet been issued by any record label. Bootleg copies of the recordijngs have been circulating for years, however.

Johnny Gorman’s as played by Coleman

Sort of. ;) That would take hours of noting every little variation he threw in. Even at the tail end of his life he wouldn’t let a tune just be, you hear all sorts of minute tweaks on the basic melody. But X:4 is my attempt to note down the core elements of how he played it in 1944, which differs a bit from other contributions here. He always plays a bottom D in the 2nd part, for instance; and the first bar is distinct as well, he sticks to that consistently far as I can tell.

The other Johnny Gorman barndance or fling or: Note how the first bar has been vandalized. Only the original contributor can do that, right? Will’s setting was also posted at this other JG tune, though: Note also that Coleman didn’t call that first tune after JG, rather “Martin Brennan’s Delight.” Molloy and Carty got the titles of these tunes mixed up.